Ferruccio Bortoluzzi was born in Venice in 1920; due to his father’s premature death, his childhood was characterised by poverty. At the beginning of the war he joined the navy as a volunteer, but during his military service he became seriously ill and was dismissed. The following years were decisive for his artistic formation: in 1943 he had his very first exhibition at the gallery of the Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa (Venice).
Ferruccio Bortoluzzi did not grow up in a family of artists; he did not study art with any master; he did not attend any kind of art school. He was self-taught in the most literal sense of the word. From Venice, his town, he seemed to have acquired his love for silence, thought, meditation. In his works carried out during the forties, he appeared as a painter of images: he preferred nudes, views of Venice and internal views; the colour of the canvasses was one shade, his paintings appeared incoherent, an ever constant feeling was that of emptiness, of abandonment that these paintings transmitted.
In 1947 he graduated from the Art Institute; subsequently he taught at the Higher Course of Industrial Design with Giulio Ambrosini, Mario de Luigi, Giuseppe Mazzariol and Italo Zannier; following that he taught at the Art Institute where he had studied and finally at the Liceo Artistico High School. He was one of the founders of the Culture Unity Centre “L’Arco”, together with Venetian artists and writers. “L’Arco” was not really an artistic movement, but it tried to make people aware of art and of great international culture through concerts, art exhibitions, encounters with poets and writers.
In 1951 he moved to Paris, where he participated in the Parisian artistic environment and met Gino Severini. After this period of intense comparison, Bortoluzzi isolated himself in his own work; in solitary meditation from which different new images appeared which showed he had abandoned his previous studies. So the artist worked again following his figurative needs, though now he concentrated mainly on realising works of religious inspiration.
At the beginning of the sixties Bortoluzzi reached full artistic maturity; having consolidated the figurative experiences of his youth, the artist started experimenting new expressive language which was highly personal. Paintings transformed into “objects”, in a process of symbiosis between painting and sculpture. Compositions realised with materials taken from real life: planks of old weather-worn wood, rusty pieces of iron, nails, ropes, rings expressed a demonstration of strength that is moving due to its humaneness, courage and the cultural value of the message the artist wanted to convey with simplicity and rigour. One can speak of a kind of “success” after years of indefatigable work.
In 1963 he exhibited at the Obelisk Gallery, London (Great Britain), he participated in the XXXIII Art Biennale in Venice in 1966; he was invited to present his works at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh (U.S.A.) in 1967 and at the Art Biennale of Sao Paolo (Brazil) in 1969.
Around the seventies the artist dedicated himself to the production of Burnt Papers, a series of works made of sheets of ripped and partly burnt paper that take on particular hues and are transformed, reminding us with their colours of wood and iron, the typical materials he used in his Compositions.
In those years he also experimented the silkscreen technique which is the best for transforming structured collages into backgrounds of uniform colours, geometric shapes in an equilibrium where a fragment, a laceration testify the existentialism of his research.
Over the years important anthological exhibitions reviewed his artistic career: the exhibition at the International Museum for Modern Art in Ca’ Pesaro (Venice) in 1982, at the Fondazione Querini Stampalia (Venice) in 2001 and again in Ca’ Pesaro in 2003.
The greatest Italian critics amongst whom are Giulio Carlo Argan, Umbro Apollonio, Giuseppe Mazzariol and others more recognized and appreciated his art.
A complete documentation of his works can be consulted at the Historical Archive for Contemporary Art in Venice.
Ferruccio Bortoluzzi died in Venice in 2007.